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Celebrate Safety this Fourth of July

Fireworks big and small pose risks; St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital reminds families to use caution during Independence Day festivities.

Each year, mostly within a few weeks of the Fourth of July, nearly 3,000 children ages 15 and under are treated in emergency departments for injuries resulting from fireworks. Children ages 5 to 9 are at the highest risk for fireworks-related injuries, and firecrackers and bottle rockets cause the most injuries to children in this age group. Children ages 4 and under are at the highest risk for sparkler-related injuries.

“Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, can cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing,” said Bevin Maynard, an injury prevention expert at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.

Maynard adds that while sparklers are seen by some parents as the safer choice, the tip of a sparkler can heat up to as high as 1,800°F, which is hot enough to cause third degree burns.

In addition to teaching your children what to do if their clothing catches on fire — stop, drop and roll — and how to call 911 in an emergency, St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocates recommend the following precautions for adults using fireworks:

  • Light fireworks only on smooth, flat surfaces, and aim them away from buildings, dry leaves, flammable materials and spectators
  • Do not try to relight fireworks that malfunction
  • Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pocket or hold them close to your face
  • Never modify fireworks or use homemade fireworks
  • Keep a phone handy, and know first aid for burns. Also, keep a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.

Finally, as in any activity involving hazardous equipment, keep all children under active supervision — in sight and in reach at all times, with your undivided attention focused on them — when they're near fireworks. Maynard adds that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community event where professionals handle them.


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